Biology and interspecific interactions of the alien crab Percnon gibbesi in the Maltese Islands

Marija Sciberras*, Patrick J. Schembri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial and bathymetric distribution, population density, habitat preferences, fecundity, breeding season and interspecific interactions of the alien grapsoid crab Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne-Edwards, 1853) from the Maltese Islands (Malta and Gozo) are compared among localities in the Mediterranean where established populations have been reported since 1999. In the Maltese Islands, habitat preferences and bathymetric distribution were similar to those in other Mediterranean localities. Spatial distribution was found to be limited by the availability of the boulder habitat in which this crab nearly always occurs. Fecundity was higher in the Maltese Islands than in Linosa and Lampedusa, the breeding season lasting from the end of May until September. On Maltese shores the habitat of the alien overlapped with that of the native grapsid Pachygrapsus marmoratus (Fabricius, 1787) (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsoidea) and, to a lesser extent, that of the native xanthid Eriphia verrucosa (Forskål, 1775). Laboratory studies to assess the possible interactions of the alien species with P. marmoratus suggest that the latter shows a competitive advantage over P. gibbesi, since 80.8% of encounters between the two species were initiated by P. marmoratus, and in 80% of the encounters it prevailed. This suggests that P. marmoratus is unlikely to be excluded from its natural habitat by the alien species, and that significant spatial resource partitioning on the part of P. marmoratus is unlikely to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-332
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Biology Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Interspecific interactions
  • Maltese Islands
  • Pachygrapsus marmoratus
  • Percnon gibbesi
  • Population density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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